Can You Identify These Ape Gestures? | Ape Body Language Quiz

Can You Identify These Ape Gestures? | Ape Body Language Quiz

How well do you know ape body language? Are you able to tell what an ape or bonobo is trying to say by raising its arm, shaking an object, or gently touching another ape? Which gesture does bonobo use to voice its need to have sex or get food from a friend? If you think you are fluent in ape language, try our new trivia challenge –  ‘Can You Identify These Ape Gestures?’ Quiz!

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Ape species such as chimps and bonobos use a large repertoire of gestures to communicate. The goal of interacting with various objects and gesticulation is very simple – to ensure survival. Being groomed by other apes, sharing food, or climbing on a friendly ape’s back are actions which improve the quality of life of the apes’ group. Thanks to the new findings, humans can now know what these gestures mean. The ongoing research on bonobos and chimps adds more and more new signals to the ape-human dictionary. 

Our ‘Can You Identify These Ape Gestures?’ Quiz consists of 20 such gestures of both chimps and bonobos. It is said that even people who have never seen them before can correctly guess some of them, which may indicate that human body language has evolved from body and hand signals. Curious how many of them you can interpret correctly? Start the quiz and see if you can score 20/20!

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Ape Gestures – Meaning And Goals

Kirsty Graham, primatologist of of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, invested hundreds of hours of their time to decode the body language of chimpanzees and bonobos. The research confirmed that gestures such as scratching ape’s own chest or touching other ape’s chin is regularly used among the aforementioned species to convey a specific message. Based on this, it is possible to create a chimp-human or bonobo-human dictionaries. What to do to receive food, be groomed, or ask to change a position?  Humans now know the answer.

The gestures of chimpanzees and bonobos are used to achieve various goals. Some needs are urgent like getting food, changing location, or spotting a dangerous predator. Other goals do not require a quick response but are also necessary. One of them is a mutualistic agreement between apes to groom each other, which boost health, reduce stress, and improve hygiene. 

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Kirsty Graham’s Ape Gestures Study

An ability to read a primate’s body language may still persist among the humans of the present. This hypothesis was confirmed by Kirsty Graham and Catherine Hobaiter, Graham’s St. Andrew’s colleague. In a paper published in PLOS Biology, the scientists provide evidence that modern humans are able to read apes body language without any previous knowledge. Participants of the study did a better job at interpreting ape and bonobo gestures than expected. This led to the conclusion that human body language is evolutionary connected to the system of gestures used by primate species. 

The study required thousands of people to watch short videos of apes interacting with each other, nearby objects or gesticulating. The results were quite impressive – many people scored high which indicates they didn’t do well by chance. So even if you are not an expert on ape behavior, you can correctly guess some of its signals. 

Humans And Chimpanzees – Evolutionary Relationship

It is not exactly known when human lineage got separated from the chimpanzee species. However, it is estimated it could have happened five million years ago. According to one hypothesis, one lineage chose to live in forests while the second one, human ancestors, decided to live on plains. This hypothesis gets higher in value when we take into consideration results of the study on human and chimp DNA. It was conducted at Arizona State University and yielded interesting results –  the divergence of two lineages occurred about 5 to 7 millions years ago. 

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However, another study suggests that it happened much later. According to its results, the divergence took place from 7 to 13 millions of years ago. It was based on the research of 226 chimp offspring. 


Will humans be able to write an ultimate ape-human dictionary? Only time can tell! With more and more studies being conducted on primate body language, we improve our understanding of various gestures and signals. Evolutionary connection to ape’s species is also an exciting subject to study. It may explain why both scientists and laymen are able to correctly interpret chimp and bonobo behavior. Can you do it too? Our Ape Body Language Quiz is waiting for you!

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Can You Identify These Ape Gestures? Questions And Answers

Can you correctly interpret the gestures of chimps and bonobos? Try our Ape Body Language Quiz and find out if you could communicate with an ape!

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Why Are There No Apes Native To North America?

Because North America’s climate is too cold. There are also no tropical forests where apes could thrive. Apes can be found in South America which is much warmer and has higher humidity than its northern counterpart.

Which Ape Species Is The Smartest?

According to recent studies, orangutans are considered to be the smartest primates. Their cognitive abilities are more advanced than the capabilities of gorillas and chimpanzees.

Which Ape Species Use Gestures To Communicate?

Species which use gestures to convey certain messages include gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans.

Is Body Language Universal Among Ape Species?

Scientists have found that a lot of signals and interactions are shared among various ape species. These gestures are not perfectly the same, but have enough similarities to describe them as nearly universal. Some signals are not the same for different species (for instance, chimps and bonobos).

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